3 Things Bariatric Post-Ops Need to Stop Doing in 2016

Screaming woman, showing timeout gesture with hands


That’s me bracing myself for the potential backlash of this post. But I don’t care! I am a part of the bariatric community, which means I am in this community, which means I see the many ways we invent to torture ourselves after surgery. And enough is enough. 2016 needs to be the year where we love ourselves.

And if you don’t love yourself, 2016 needs to be the year you “fake it til you make it.”

So do me, but more importantly yourself, a favor and STOP doing these things in 2016. Call it resolutions if you want. Just stop doing them!

Stop using exercise as penance for (perceived bad) food choices

Now let me make a distinction here. I am not talking about when you know you are going to have an indulgent weekend so you add a bit of time onto your workouts throughout the week to burn some extra calories. That’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about when some of us say, “I ate a cookie! Now I have to do an extra hour on the treadmill!”

Yes. That. Stop that. It’s not healthy.

It seems like it’s healthy. But it’s not healthy. And I’ll tell you why.

When you are early out in your post-op life it seems like whatever can motivate you to exercise is a good thing. But here’s the deal. (Universe willing) You have a loooooong life to live. If physical activity is to be a sustainable part of it, you need to approach it with an agreeable attitude.

I don’t know about you, but I generally don’t have agreeable attitudes toward things I deem painful or punitive.

I know the rebuttals I’ll get with this one too. “But it motivates me!” My answer would be “let’s think about why painting exercise as punishment is motivating to you.”

Foodies, exercise because it makes your body feel good. (And if it doesn’t make your body feel good, find a new form of exercise!) Exercise because it’s healthy. Exercise because it’s part of your new lifestyle. But stop using exercise for penance for food choices!

Stop letting the scale dictate your self-worth

This is one I was once very guilty of. Again, let me qualify. I know a lot of folks use the scale to keep themselves in check. That’s fine! Many of you weigh every day for accountability (I won’t do that but I respect your right to do so). That’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about when we beat ourselves up over things that happen on the scale and especially when we start to exhibit overall unhealthy behaviors in reaction to the scale. That includes:

  • Undereating or starving yourself
  • Over-training (exercising way too much without the necessary rest your body needs)
  • Jumping head-first into “shall not be named” crash diets in order to feel better fast

That’s not healthy! It’s not healthy to determine your sense of self-worth or self-love on something as variable as your weight. Sure, we can control some aspects of our weight, but not all. If you see a gain, depending on how much it is, there could be many factors at play. You could be retaining water, you could have to take a poo, it could be the result of medications you are taking and, yes, it could be a result of your behavior.

The big point is that no matter what the scale says you are worthy of self-love and self-respect. Let me say that again, center it and underline it so you all here me.

No matter what the scale says, you are worthy of self-love and self respect.

Matter of fact, I think I’m going to make it a meme! Copy it, pin it, whatever!

Self love

Say it. Every day. Until you believe it. And stop letting the scale determine your sense of self-worth!

Stop being afraid to ask your bariatric professionals for help

This one I know for sure many post-ops struggle with. How do I know? Because instead of emailing your bariatric professionals, you all email me! I don’t mind (I really do love hearing from you) but I think it’s time for us to get over this “sitting outside the principal’s office” view of admitting to our bariatric surgeons that we are struggling.

This year I had the opportunity to meet many surgeons and I asked every one I met the same question. “What do you think of patients who are struggling?” Here are the most common answers I got:

  • “I think overcoming obesity is hard and I want to help my patients in whatever way I can.”
  • “I wish patients would come see us when they first notice something is wrong. We can help avoid major regain.”
  • “My team is here to help our patients, not judge them.”

Notice what wasn’t said. I can honestly say out of 50+ surgical practices I spoke with over the course of last year, not one said they think of regain as failure. Not one said they look down on post-ops who struggle or regain. But every person I spoke with expressed the desire to help. Because they want to help you. The day your surgeon stuck his or her hands into your gut, they became bound up with your future and your success. I have to believe that counts for something!

So if you are struggling, go see your surgeon! They have a team and they can help.

WHEW! So those are three things I hope you will STOP doing in 2016. I welcome your debate on any of these points, but in the end it’s about coming to peace with your body and your process. Please note coming to peace does NOT mean becoming complacent. It doesn’t mean giving up or throwing in the towel. It means you understand that this is a process and that at turns you will make mistakes. It means you want to turn your mistakes into learning moments to better equip you in the future. It means you know that beating yourself up and being negative didn’t work in the past. It means that you know that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Let’s make 2016 the year we go for real change. What do you say?


  1. Your affirmation made me cry. My surgery is this Wednesday. I’m neither excited or nervous. I’m just ready. Thanks for your blog.

    • Rebecca, I was so excited to have my surgery!!! Never ONCE for even a second, did I get nervous! Its an easy surgery to recover from..Im my opinion, and I was 57 when I had mine..I am 3 yrs out..its the BEST DECISION I ever made ..I was 290, and now am 168…GO FOR IT!!!!!!Loose as much as you can the first 6 months, because after that you lose like you used to..lots slower..it will depress you…but you have the rest of your life, to lose..!! the hardest part is keeping it off..I gained 20 lbs this last year, eating ice cream..I STOPPED, AND got back on plan, and lost it..I am watching myself and staying on Low Carb diet..NO SUGAR at all…

  2. Thanks for your post. Your affirmation made me cry. My surgery is this week and I ready for it, not scared, not excited, just ready.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Nikki, Thank you sooo much! I really appreciate your honesty and caring, sisterly advice!!! I love this community and I know I would not be able to accomplish half as much as I have without your help!!

  4. I started weighing myself once a month, I was going crazy weighing in every week. I don’t contact my Bariatric nutritionist because she does not help me out that much. When I first went back after a year I was eating things that were taken off the list but I was not told. I know there are a lot of patients that have had this surgery so why couldn’t she either emailed or sent an update in the mail.. Yes, I know I need help. After 7 years I have regained 40 pounds & am having one hell of a time getting it off. I will not call the Bariatric Center because I know I won’t get the help I need.

    • Maybe you could try to find a baristric Doctor who could help you and that you feel comfortable with. Good luck and God Bless you

  5. Thank you for this post. I needed it.

  6. I will have my surgery with in the next month and I love the feed back of what others feelings and thoughts are. Thank you all

  7. I am 2 months post-op gastric sleeve. Thank you for some great advice. I’m trying to take in and learn as much as possible from anyone who has had surgery. I have already had to quit weighing everyday. It makes me crazy. Still getting the kinks worked out with exercise. That to makes me crazy. Loved this article.

  8. I am 4 years out from my surgery (lost 95 pounds) and had gained about 16 pounds back .of which I lost 8 this past fall but regained 4 of that so I am at a point where I am discouraged….I have moved away from the state where I had my surgery so I am at a lose for help. But your article is encouraging. Thank you

  9. After regain of 60 pounds I finally reached out. I started a Weight Loss Management class thru my surgeons office with another doctor. I have had a series of tests. They have determined that, even though I am NOT pre-diabetic, I am high insulin tolerant. They started me this week on M******** to get my “snail” metabolism moving. I started tracking my food with Fitness Pal and received a Bellabeat Leaf Tracker for Christmas. I also started wearing my CPAP again. Adjusting to it is hard but I am up to about 6-7 hrs a night again. This is my year. I have spent the last year and a half caring for my family and letting me go. No more.

  10. I had RNY 8 years ago. Lost 125 lbs,, which was 20 lbs lower than my surgeon recommended. Gained back 30, lost 10, so am at my goal weight as far as my surgeon is concerned but a little heavier than I wanted. BUT I feel 20 years younger than I did before surgery, my labs are all good, and I don’t need a skinny wardrobe and a fat wardrobe like I had before. I weigh the same this year as I did last year, a miracle in my world because I was always yo-yoing before surgery. And I like myself just the way I am for the first time in many years. (I’m 63) I loved what you said about exercise – it helps so much to find an activity that you “get to do” instead of “have to do.” For me, those activities are swimming, riding my tricycle (can’t balance on a 2-wheeler) and walking with my dogs.

  11. I had lapbad surery in 2008..I went from 265 down to 200lbs. Size 24 to 14 however I have gained 20 lbs back and cannot seem to lose it. My goal is 175lbs. I have a lot of skin hanging on my arms and belly but insurance will not pay to have it removed. I talked to my Dr thinking they had something I could help reset my body but nothing. I’m starting to feel like I did prior to surgery and I did not like that person. I now have fibromyalgia and it makes it hard to workout anymore. Is there something I can do or can u help me? I need like a food plan or something do not know where to start..

    • Hey Dixie,

      Unfortunately, you can’t exactly “reset” your body (no matter what fad diets on the internet say). It takes work and it’s hard! What’s worked for me is focusing in on that protein first rule, but there’s another step. HARD proteins. Chicken breast, steak, salmon. That stuff sits heavy (which is why I usually don’t want to eat it because I get full too quickly and can’t eat the junk I want to eat!) and round that out with veggies (with the skins on for more fiber!).

      While I’m not a dietician, if you look in the “books” section of the website I have something called the “Back on Track” Toolkit. It costs like $3. It has a week’s worth of WLS-friendly recipes you can make to refocus along with advice on how to get yourself back on the road to compliance. If you want, give that a try. But also ask your doctor if he or she can refer you to a good dietician who will work with you throughout your process. A good one is worth their weight in GOLD!

      Please let us know how it goes. I’ll be thinking of you. 🙂


  12. I am so very happy I found this site. Between the Pledge, the recipes, the motivation and the support of peers I am ready! I jumped through all the insurance hoops (even passed a psych eval…I was afraid going in I might be committed!) My surgery date is 2/17/16. I have done the research, watched videos followed blogs, etc. and the one thing that EVERYONE says is the only regret was not having it sooner!

  13. Just had SLEEVE surgery 1/12/16 and found your site!!! Love it!! Good Luck Kathie

  14. I’m Pre-Op and I’m wondering how many of you got scared and thought of backing out…Questioning if you were chosing the right thing to do ?

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